‘The Twelve’. Vol. 1 by J. Michael Straczynski

The interesting thing here is that Marvel has taken an entire team of early Timely Comics heroes from the 1940s and Steve Rogers’d them. Instead of one guy caught in the ice and revived 20 or 30 years later, it’s 12 characters and 60 years.

Many of these characters’ abilities seem to overlap in and only half of them have actual powers, but this is a pretty good read. They’re all fish out of water and like Alan Moore’s  Watchmen , many of them have dark pasts. Unlike Moore’s super-team none of the characters anticipate contemporary Marvel or DC heroes — there is no Tony Stark, no antediluvian archers and there are no pantheon members or mythological figures.

What Straczynski DOES deliver in keeping with Moore’s precedent are dysfunctional characters trying to catch up with the present. This book has the feel of something that might have continued past the initial order, had  Joe Quesada, Marvel’s Editor-in-Chief, not run Straczynski out of the company after insisting on the controversial Spider-Man story-arc in  One More Day .

The Twelve  is good work by Straczynski, almost as good as the indy work that he did on  Rising Stars  and  Midnight Nation , before his exclusive contract with Marvel.If you’re tired of cardboard heroes and you’re looking for flawed, interesting characters, this is definitely worth checking out.
The first 6 issues are collected in a trade published by Marvel, but we’ll probably have to wait until the Fall before Volume #2 comes out in hardcover and another 3 or 4 after that before they issue a paperback trade. It’s neither as ambitious or meta as  Watchmen , but it is a good read. Highly Recommended.

[ rating:3/5]

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